Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Whole New Mind

Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind was our first school-wide Book Study this year. When you think that we are preparing our children for jobs that don’t yet exist, it is so important for us to grasp how education today will fit into life tomorrow. I heard much of this same information from Marc Tucker last Spring as he talked about the urgency for change in our teaching which means moving our children from left-brain thinkers (the jobs that we will be exporting) to right-brain thinkers (creativity demanding jobs of the future). As Dr. Tucker stated, routine work done by people and by machines will be a small percentage of the work done in the United States. Most of the work skills in our future will be creative in nature (60% of the jobs in the next 10 years will be based on creative thinking!) so there is reason to give our left-brained children right-brained experiences. As I think about that change, I think about the model that we now present to our learners.

I have always believed that teaching is one half science (left-brain) and one half art (right brain). The pendulum in education swings between those two extremes. The science is in knowing the research – knowing what should work and why. There is no question that right now the pendulum of education has swung far into the left brain - the research and skill areas. Some teachers might think it’s actually struck there! But teachers should take full advantage of this time in our history. They should soak in the knowledge that comes from research. They should use their own on-going action research in their classroom to inform practice and challenge their assumptions. On the other hand we must never lose the art, the right-brain creativity that is the heart of teaching. The art is in knowing the child – knowing from experience and intuitively what will work. In our country, in our county right now, our perception may be that we are stuck in a left-brained, regimented, compliance mode, but we know that the pendulum will swing back to the middle where diversity of thought will be encouraged to yeild solutions. Being courageous enough to take everything that is offered to us now - while science is the emphasis - and then to integrate that knowledge into what we know to be true, to combine the art and science and to do what has to be done to make sure every child is a success story – Now that is what quality teaching is all about.

If we can model that as teachers, then the next generation of children has the hope of seeing beauty, whimsy and engagement in their work and their lives. They have the hope of understanding the value of relationships, of thinking unconventional thoughts and of making bold leaps in imagination as they find life's meaning, life's calling, in their work. I hope that is the environment that we are building for our children at Chets Creek - a place that is fun and engaging where people regularly laugh and take risks, where relationships and caring about others is the foundation upon which everything else is built and where all of that comes together in increased skill and expertise that drives outstanding results. That is our gift to the next generation of children. May we stand tall in the dawning of this Creative Age.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I really enjoy your blog. I have an idea about bulletin boards that I use in my classroom.

I take a picture of the child's work and commentary with a digital camera. I print the two items on a regular sheet of paper horizontally. I send it home along with a note that this child's work is featured on our bulletin board.

Thanks for your blog.